Peregrine Bird Tours
Bird Tours
Peregrine Bird Tours

Australia Birdwatching Tour

Australian Birdwatching Tours
Australia Birdwatching Tour
When: Mon 3 Sep - Sat 22 Sep 2012
Leader: Chris Doughty
Australia Birdwatching Tour
Hobart/Cairns (20 Days) AUS$7100
Single Room Supplement AUS$920
Often referred to as the 'Timeless Land', this island continent has been cut off from the rest of the world for more than sixty million years and as a result has evolved a remarkable and unique flora and fauna. This isolation has enabled the marsupials to flourish and diversify; we will encounter such remarkable creatures as kangaroos, wallabies, possums, Koala and the strange Platypus. The birdlife has also followed its own evolutionary path, resulting in Australia having more endemic bird species than any other country in the world and many bird families which are restricted to Australasia. These include megapodes, lories, cockatoos, owlet-nightjars, lyrebirds, Australian creepers, fairy-wrens, honeyeaters, pardalotes, woodswallows, butcherbirds, bowerbirds and birds-of-paradise. To date about 780 species of birds have been recorded from Australia, a staggering 332, are endemic to Australia and found nowhere else on earth. Australia's immense geographical area means that it is simply impossible to see all of its endemic birds during one visit, any attempt to do so would result in far too much time travelling and too little time actually spent in the field. In the harsh environment of the arid interior of Australia relatively few species are able to survive; in complete contrast, the forested mountains of Australia's only major mountain range, the Great Dividing Range, which runs parallel to the east coast for a distance of 2000 kilometres, are simply alive with birds. In these forested mountains the highest diversity of both animals and birds occur and this is where we will concentrate our efforts. Our Australian birdwatching tour begins on the beautiful island of Tasmania, where we explore stunning mountain forests and take a boat out to the edge of the continental shelf for some truly spectacular pelagic birding. Continuing on to mainland Australia we visit the arid, bushy terrain of the 'Mallee', in northwestern Victoria, where we shall enjoy the many specialties of this unique area. We then spend several days amidst the wet sclerophyll hill forests, coastal heathlands and spectacular beaches of southernmost Victoria. Flying northwards we go birding in the magnificent subtropical rainforests of Lamington National Park in southern Queensland. Moving northwards yet again we come to the rich tropical rainforest and coastal habitats of northern Queensland. Here in the jungles of the Atherton Tablelands exotic bowerbirds and riflebirds will compete for our attentions with enormous birdwing butterflies. As well as looking at the wonderful selection of waders on the coastal mudflats we shall have a chance to explore the famous Great Barrier Reef, marveling at both the riches of the coral reefs and a superb array of tropical seabirds. This tour has been designed to offer the optimum Australian birdwatching tour.

DAYS 1-2 Hobart is a beautiful modern city on a wide blue sound, surrounded by green mountains. Not far from the city is Mount Wellington, the dominant landmark in the area and it is here that we will find most of the endemic birds of the island. Black-headed Honeyeaters forage in the forest canopy, Strong-billed Honeyeaters cling to the sides of tall eucalypts, tearing off strips of bark in their search for insects and spiders. Scrubtits try to disguise themselves amongst small flocks of White-browed Scrubwrens and Tasmanian Thornbills. Higher up the slopes we look for Yellow-throated Honeyeater and Black Currawong. Near the summit, we will look amongst the boulder-strewn slopes and stunted shrubs for one of Australia's most beautiful birds, the Flame Robin. South of Hobart is Brunny Island where our attentions will be focused on locating the remainder of the Tasmanian endemics. The island still holds several small colonies of Forty-spotted Pardalotes, one of Australia's most endangered birds, and with persistence and a little good fortune we hope to see this delightful little bird. Tasmanian Native-hen is still quite common around the farm dams and Swift Parrot and Yellow Wattlebird are not uncommon in the forests. On one day, weather permitting, we will travel by boat out to the edge of the continental shelf in search of pelagic seabirds. Australia has a marvelous variety of seabirds in its coastal waters and we are likely to enjoy a spectacular and unforgettable performance during our hours at sea. Huge albatrosses are frequently in view, borne aloft on the wind before banking away across the waves and groups of shearwaters sweep from side to side as they follow the troughs between the waves. Amongst the species we are likely to see today are Wandering, Black-browed and Shy Albatrosses, Southern Giant, Northern Giant, Cape and White-chinned Petrels, Fairy Prion, Sooty and Short-tailed Shearwaters, Common Diving-Petrel and Wilson's Storm-Petrel.            

DAY 3 Early morning flight from Hobart to Melbourne, on mainland Australia. From Melbourne we drive to Rainbow in the `Mallee` country of northwestern Victoria for a two nights stay. During the journey we shall pause in a strikingly beautiful area of water-worn sandstone hills and eucalypt woodland to look for Superb Fairy-wren, Specked Warbler, Buff-rumped and Yellow Thornbills, Varied Sittella, Yellow-tufted, Brown-headed and New Holland Honeyeaters and White-winged Chough. We will also stop at two productive lakes where we should see a good variety of waterbirds.

DAYS 4-5 During the next two days we shall go birding in two of the Mallee national parks. Firstly, Wyperfeld and then Hattah Kulkyne, both are extensive areas of virgin mallee. Mallee trees are stunted, multi-trunked eucalypts, which grow in sandy soils. Here we shall hope to see Malleefowl tending an incubation mound as the rays of the rising sun begin to warm its surface. Western Grey Kangaroos are common here, as are Emus. We may see a family party of Emus hurrying away through the grassland, the chicks anxiously trying to keep up with their enormous father. Amongst other birds we may see here are Common Bronzewing, Pink Cockatoo, Regent, Red-rumped and Mulga Parrots, Budgerigar, Mallee Ringneck, Tree Martin, White-winged Triller, Hooded Robin, Chestnut Quail-thrush, Weebill, Brown Treecreeper, Yellow-plumed
Honeyeater, Striated Pardalote, Masked and White-browned Woodswallows and Australian Raven. On the second day we will overnight at Ouyen.

DAY 6 Most of the day will be taken up by the long drive southwards to Healesville, situated on the northeastern outskirts of Melbourne, for an overnight stay. On the way, we shall make a special effort to find one or two Koalas, which unfortunately, is now an endangered species. We will also have time to stop for any birds of interest that we see along the roadside.

DAY 7 In the morning we visit an area of wet sclerophyll forest, which is one of the best places in Australia to see the Superb Lyrebird. The remarkable lyrebird is probably the most accomplished mimic in the avian world and when the males sing they include the songs and calls of many other forest species. Other species we may see include Gang-gang Cockatoo, Fan-tailed Cuckoo, Scarlet Robin, White-naped and Crescent Honeyeaters, Bell Miner, Spotted Pardalote and the very localized Red-browed Treecreeper. Later we drive to Phillip Island, where we overnight. On our arrival at the island we will search for the uncommon Cape Barren Goose, which has recently colonised the island. In the evening we visit a beach where there is a breeding colony of Little Penguins and Short-tailed Shearwaters. As dusk falls thousands of shearwaters
stream inland to their colonies and soon the penguins themselves begin to arrive. Part of the beach is floodlit and the penguins can be observed as they emerge from the sea and make their way to their burrows to feed their young. The birds are now so accustomed to visitors that they will walk right past you!

DAY 8 Today we explore Wilson's Promontory National Park at the southernmost tip of the Australian mainland. The scenery is spectacular with mountain peaks, deep verdant gullies and a breathtaking coastline of steep granite headlands and sweeping white beaches. The diverse birdlife ranges from flocks of Crimson Rosellas, which have become so tame that they will feed from your hand, to the endangered Hooded Plover that nests on the more remote beaches. Other species of interest include Sooty Oystercatcher, Pacific Gull, Brush Bronzewing, Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoo, Southern Emu-wren, Brush Wattlebird, Tawny-crowned Honeyeater and Forest Raven. In the late afternoon we shall drive to Melbourne.

DAY 9 This morning we take a flight to the Gold Coast in southeast Queensland and then drive up into the hills to Lamington National Park for a two nights stay. In the afternoon we will begin our exploration of the area.

DAY 10 On the border between Queensland and New South Wales rise the 1000m high escarpments of the Lamington Plateau where Queensland's best know national park protects a vast area of mountain peaks, cliffs, gorges and dense subtropical rainforest. The birdlife here is very exciting and we may well find such species as Pacific Baza, Australian Brush-Turkey, Top-knot and Wonga Pigeons, Brown Cuckoo-Dove, Australian King Parrot, Pale-headed Rosella, Noisy Pitta, Bassian Thrush, Eastern Yellow Robin, Black-faced Monarch, Rufous Fantail, Logrunner, Eastern Whipbird, Large-billed and Yellow-throated Scrubwrens, Brown Gerygone, Lewin's and Yellow-faced Honeyeaters, Eastern Spinebill, Red-browned Firetail, Green Catbird, Paradise Riflebird, Pied Butcherbird and Torresian Crow. The highlights of the park are the deep blue Satin
Bowerbirds and stunning black and gold Regent Bowerbirds that come to feed out in the open, unafraid of nearby humans. We should be able to observe the remarkable male Satin Bowerbird at its bower, which it decorates with whatever blue trinkets it can find - feathers, berries, bottle tops, plastic straws or anything else that is portable. At night we will go out in search of Southern Boobook, Tawny Frogmouth and the strange Australian Owlet-Nightjar.

DAY 11 After some final birding in Lamington we will drive to Brisbane and take an afternoon flight to Cairns in northeast Queensland for a three nights stay. Later we will begin our exploration of the local area.

DAY 12 Cairns is without doubt the most outstanding birding area in Australia. During our time here we shall visit sandy beaches, coastal mudflats, mangrove-lined creeks, and a fine area of lowland topical rainforest. Birds we should see include Australian Pelican, Striated Heron, Royal Spoonbill, Brahminy Kite, Lesser Golden and Red-capped Plovers, Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers, Eastern Curlew, Grey-tailed Tattler, Terek and Sharp-tailed Sandpipers, Great Knot, Red-necked Stint, Caspian and Gull-billed Terns, Torresian Imperial-Pigeon, Peaceful Dove, Little Bronze-Cuckoo, Australian Swiftlet, Collared Kingfisher, Dollarbird, White-bellied and Yellow-eyed Cuckoo-Shrikes, Varied Triller, Helmeted Friarbird, Yellow and Varied Honeyeater, Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Mistletoebird, Figbird, Spangled Drongo and White-breasted Woodswallow.

DAY 13 One of the highlights of the tour is our boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef. We visit Michaelmas Cay, a
small sandy island surrounded by coral reefs, it is the breeding or resting site for thousands of terns, predominantly Sooty Terns and Brown Noddies, but also Black-naped, Bridled, Crested and Lesser Crested Terns. Other species that are regularly seen here include Great Frigatebird and Brown Booby. While we are at the island there will be an opportunity to go snorkeling or take a glass-bottomed boat trip over the reef, providing a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful corals and brightly-coloured tropical fish.

DAY 14 Morning boat trip through the rainforest of the Daintree River. As we drift slowly downstream surrounded by luxuriant vegetation, with branches of trees arching overhead and dead snags providing a perch for the dazzling Azure Kingfisher, we shall search for two of Australia's rarest birds, the Great-billed Heron and the cryptically coloured Papuan Frogmouth. Other species we may encounter include Wompoo Fruit-Dove, Cicadabird, Large-billed Gerygone, Spectacled Monarch and Black Butcherbird. In the afternoon we will walk a stretch of beach where we could well be rewarded with good looks at the endangered Beach Thick-knee. We then drive inland to the Atherton Tablelands for a two nights stay at the Kingfisher Birdwatchers Lodge at Julatten, on the northern edge of the tablelands, followed by two nights at Yungaburra, on the southern edge of the tablelands.

DAYS 15-17 During out stay in this superb area we shall visit several outstanding national parks which preserve the richest and most fascinating rainforests in Australia. A trickle of light filters down through the leafy canopy to reveal a prolific growth of ferns of every description. Huge epiphytic staghorns and elkhorns, together with innumerable small ferns, cling to the moss-covered trunks and branches of the giant trees of this luxuriant and perpetually damp environment. Living in the green twilight are such creatures as the enormous Cape York Birdwing Butterfly and a host of rainforest birds. Some of the birds we may see in the forest, or in the surrounding countryside with its pastures, open savanna and scattered wetlands include Wandering and Plumed Whistling-Ducks, Hardhead, Cotton Pygmy-Goose, Black-shouldered and Whistling Kites, Orange-footed Scrubfowl, Brown Quail, Buff-banded Rail, Sarus Crane, Australian Bustard, Emerald Dove, Scaly-breasted Lorikeet, Pheasant Coucal, Blue-winged Kookaburra, Forest Kingfisher, Rainbow Bee-eater, Pale-yellow and Grey-headed Robins, Pied Monarch, Leaden Flycatcher, Chowchilla, Tawny Grassbird, Red-backed Fairy-wren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Macleay's, Bridled, Dusky and Scarlet Honeyeaters, Chestnut-breasted Mannikin, Golden Bowerbird, Tooth-billed and Spotted Catbirds and Victoria's Riflebird. Early one morning we will visit a favored haunt of the shy Platypus, hoping to see this
strange creature swimming about in a quiet pool as the light slowly improves.

DAY 18 After a last morning on the Atherton Tablelands we will drive to Mission Beach for a two nights stay.

DAY 19 South of Cairns are some areas of dense lowland rainforest. This is the most likely place in Australia in which to see Southern Cassowary. In spite of their huge size (the species is known to attain a height of up to 1.6m), cassowaries are very secretive and numbers are in steady decline due to a combination of habitat loss and traffic fatalities, so fining one is often a challenge.

DAY 20 A full morning to catch up on any species we may have missed, before driving to Cairns, where we connect with international flights home. This will be the conclusion of our Australian birdwatching tour.

Field Guide to the Birds of Australia
by K. Simpson and N. Day.

A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia by P. Menkhorst and F. Knight.

For any inquiries about the Australian Birdwatching Tour please contact us

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